The questions I get asked the most often about body armor is…does it work? And do you own any? Those seem like easy questions, and the second one is easy to answer. Yes, I do own both soft and hard body armor, and I have a kits which include both. The first question is a little more complex, and requires a more in depth answer. (As a reminder, I have never been in combat or in law enforcement. While I have tested my kits in training, I have never been shot at or shot while wearing body armor. I’m merely offering my opinions based on my personal experience.)
•Does Body Armor work? Yes, and no… if the armor a person wears is properly rated for the caliber which strikes it, and the bullet strikes it in the correct area…yes it works. If the the projectile is more powerful than the body armor is rated for, or hits the wearer in a place which is partially covered or not covered, it can lead to injuries up to and including death. The following link provides real life statistics from officers who have been shot while wearing body armor.
According to FBI statistics, 505 police officers were killed between 2005–14. Of those, 466 were killed by firearms, and 313 were wearing body armor.
The explanations for the 313 deaths have more to do with where the officers were hit, and with which gun caliber than it does with the effectiveness of the body armor itself. (See the above link)
•Are you still combat effective if you survive a hit wearing body armor? Yes, in some cases, but it’s not like the movies. It depends where you are hit, with which caliber, and how physically fit you are, and how you are built. The following videos will give you a better indication of what it’s like to get hit with a bullet while wearing body armor.
So, if you are wearing the correct set up for the bullet which hit you, the bullet hits you in a spot covered by your armor, and you are physically fit, you will survive the shot if the armor is up to spec. You may or may not be combat effective after you are hit.
There are things to consider when it comes to whether or not you should have body armor in your kit.
• Are you physically fit enough to carry 8-20lbs of extra weight on your body? Most people can manage Soft Body Armor (around 6-8lbs) reasonably well. Hard Body Armor is much heavier in comparison (15-25lbs).
• Will you train with your body armor or let it sit in your closet until SHTF? Moving, sitting, walking, driving, running and especially shooting with Body Armor requires training. If you don’t train with it, stick with Soft Body Armor, or don’t bother with it at all.
• Body Armor adds bulk, reduces mobility and stamina, is hot and uncomfortable . Shooting a rifle or pistol with body armor requires a lot of training. The points of contact and feel of your gun will be altered completely. What you are accustomed to doing for all your life while shooting changes when you put on body armor and attempt to shoot your gun.
•Are you willing to sacrifice mobility and weight which can be used to carry extra food, water or ammo for body armor. 5 thirty round AR mags, and two gallons of water is what my hard body armor costs me in trade.
• Here are some additional items to think about when it comes to Body Armor.
In summary, I do own body armor, but I consider it low on my prep priority. In a SHTF situation, my best “bullet proof” strategy is to avoid contact, and not get shot. I can accomplish that better if I’m mobile. I consider my Soft Body Armor as a flak jacket. My expectation is that it will protect me from shrapnel, more so than depending on it for direct hits with a bullet. Hard Body Armor will come into play if I’m driving, or defending my position as a last resort. I won’t be moving a lot, and since my additional gear is in my truck or house, I won’t be sacrificing any gear in place of body armor.
Remember, police and soldiers have logistical back up. Their body armor is to keep them alive long enough to get them medivac’d to a surgery table. In a SHTF scenario, that will not be the norm for us. Those are my own personal thoughts. As I have stated, I’m not a professional, I’m simply sharing my personal knowledge of the topic, and my own personal strategy. I hope the information is of help. I encourage you to do your own research, and come to your own conclusions.